Electricity retailers are switching onto the fact that, increasingly, homes and businesses want their electricity to come from renewable energy sources. The demand for so-called green electricity is skyrocketing.
Never slow to miss an opportunity, electricity retailers are responding with a host of green electricity offers.
An Australian Government initiative – called GreenPower – has become the leading green quality badge promoted by electricity retailers keen to show off their environmental credentials.
So what is GreenPower? How green is it? And who’s offering the best green electricity deals?
What is GreenPower?
GreenPower is a Federal Government accreditation scheme that lets you do a bit extra to help Australia’s transition to renewable energy, above and beyond legislated targets.
By paying a premium on your energy consumption, you support the purchase of new renewable generation in Australia.
You can choose to offset 10% up to 100% of your electricity consumption from the electricity grid against renewable energy sources like wind, solar and hydro.
How Green is GreenPower – really?
The reality is that no electricity retailer in Australia can sell you only renewable energy. To be fair, it’s not their fault.
The underlying problem is they can only sell us electricity that comes from the grid – and the Australian electricity grid is still largely powered by fossil fuels. Currently, only around 25% of the national grid is made up of clean energy, the rest is dirty power mostly from coal.
All the retailers can do is put more money into renewable energy generation. This offsets the power from dirty energy generators and increases the percentage of renewable energy in the grid.
The bad news when you buy GreenPower is that you won’t be getting 100% green electricity flowing through the circuits in your home or business. That’s because technically, there’s no way of siphoning off the clean energy from the dirty stuff.
The good news is that when you purchase GreenPower, you are helping speed up the transformation of the electricity grid – and cutting your carbon footprint.
Where to look for the best green electricity deals
There are lots of energy comparison websites out there. How do you find one that’s reliable, independent and gives you the all the latest offers?
In most Australian states, the best place to look for electricity deals are Government-sponsored energy comparison websites.
The pros are:
The cons are:
* May not have all the latest offers
It’s important to be aware that, pretty much without exception, there’s no electricity comparison website that will have absolutely all the latest offers.
That’s because electricity retailers are putting out new offers all the time so it’s virtually impossible for any energy comparison website to be completely up to date.
As one Government energy website spokesperson said, “our website is only as up to date as the information provided to us by electricity retailers.”
Having said that, due to their independence, most electricity retailers worth their salt want to be listed on the Government energy websites.
They’re a great starting point when you’re shopping around for the best green electricity deal.
Finding the best green electricity deals: a state-by-state guide
This easy-to-use site provides the cheapest offers based on the electricity usage profiles you provide. It’s a good idea to have your latest electricity bill to hand before you get started as you’ll need to input information from it in order to get accurate price comparisons.
To find the GreenPower deals, use the ‘Features’ option from the filters and select green offers. You’ll see the overall cost of electricity for a year and the percentage of GreenPower that’s included in the offer.
NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT
Energy Made Easy is an Australian Government energy price comparison service operated by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER).
Like the Victorian energy website, it’s easy to use and a great way to check out energy deals from all the major electricity retailers operating in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tassie and the ACT.
To find the best GreenPower deals in your state, make sure you select ‘only show plans with Greenpower’ in the filters.
Western Australia and the Northern Territory
The electricity grids in these states both operate independently from the main national grid.
There’s very little choice when it comes to electricity retailers. For example, if you live in Perth and you are looking for an electricity deal for your home, there’s only one option – Synergy.
In Darwin, it’s a little better with two main electricity retailers – Jacana and Rimfire Energy.
Possibly due to this lack of competition, none of the electricity retailers in these states make much effort to push GreenPower. And most probably because there’s virtually no choice of retailers, you won’t find Government energy comparison websites either.
How much extra does GreenPower cost?
This depends on what percentage of GreenPower you want to buy – this could be as low as 10%, up to 100%. There’s even a retailer in the ACT who offers 200% GreenPower!
Some electricity retailers do a great job making it transparent what they charge for GreenPower. With others, it’s not so clear and just built into the overall offer price.
GreenPower doesn’t have to be a whole lot more expensive. It mean an increase of as little as two or three cents per kilowatt hour to go 100% GreenPower.
One electricity retailer says they have a GreenPower deal that’s only going to cost you 65 cents a week extra (although we’re guessing that’s not 100% GreenPower, more likely 10 or 20%).
Whatever the case, the market for green electricity is hotting up with some great deals out there – if you live in Victoria, NSW, South Australia, ACT, Queensland or Tasmania, that is.
Use the Government energy comparison websites to shop around. It won’t take you long and it’s well worth doing.
GreenPower needn’t cost the earth. In fact, by purchasing GreenPower you’re helping save it.